By Pat Sturdy,
National Legal Counsel
Recently, there have been several inquiries regarding what rules a division must follow in connection with the ownership and operation of a hall. The requirements for the owners and operation of a hall can be found within the National Constitution at Article XVI, which expressly forbids a division, county or state board from owning, leasing, managing or operating a hall. The National Constitution further provides that a division, county or state board must form a separate legal entity (corporation or limited liability) company which may own, lease, manage or operate a hall. The documents forming this separate legal entity must be submitted to the National President for review. The elected officers of the jurisdiction where the hall is located are responsible for ensuring compliance with these requirements.
Additionally, any hall or building may not be owned or operated using the name AOH, Hibernian Hall or any similar variation without proof that each superior jurisdiction is named as an additional insured. Each year the jurisdiction using the name AOH, Hibernian Hall or similar variation must provide proof to the National President that it has the name of each superior jurisdiction as an additional insured on its insurance policy. Furthermore, the jurisdiction operating a hall shall keep financial records separate and apart from the books and records of the jurisdiction of the Order.
The purpose of the prohibition contained within the National Constitution against division’s owning and operating a building/hall in its own name, is to protect the AOH from the potential liability associated with owning and operating a building/hall. Failure and/refusal to comply with the National Constitution is a violation of the Oath an officer takes when he is installed, and could result in their expulsion from the Order. Likewise, failure and/or refusal to comply with the National Constitution is a violation of the member’s oath when they joined the AOH, and could also result in the member’s expulsion from the Order.
Furthermore, the Division’s failure and/or refusal to comply with the National Constitution could result in the Division’s loss of its Charter, which would mean that the Division loses its tax exempt status. The implications for loss of tax exempt status is that there could be serious financial penalties imposed upon the Division, its Officers and its Members.